Archive for the ‘Entries #851-900’ Category

I heard a few uses of chicane on the radio yesterday. This feminine noun means “fight” or “argument.” In particular, I heard these two usages:

une chicane au bureau
a fight at the office
an argument at work

une chicane de famille
a family fight
an argument in the family

I also heard the verb se chicaner, which means “to fight with one another.” Ils se chicanent. They fight with one another.

In particular, the speaker on the radio said this using se chicaner:

Chicanez-vous pas, là!
Don’t fight, now!
No fighting, now!

The speaker said this to two people who were play-fighting on air.

Grammar books would tell us the way to form this negative construction is ne vous chicanez pas. But that’s not what the speaker said — she did indeed say chicanez-vous pas. This is an informal, spoken construction. It was formed by simply adding pas after the affirmative.

chicanez-vous, fight
chicanez-vous pas, don’t fight

One that you’ll hear often enough in spoken French in Québec following this form is inquiète-toi pas, don’t worry.

inquiète-toi, worry
inquiète-toi pas, don’t worry

Remember, this is felt to be informal. When the rules of written grammar must be followed strictly (like on your exam in your French course), you’d have to write ne t’inquiète pas.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday’s post about the expression quand même contained an example of the feminine word aubaine as used in Québec:

Quelle aubaine!
What a deal!
What an offer!

C’est une aubaine.
It’s a good offer.
It’s a good price.

Later on, I spotted a sign in a Montréal shop using the same word:

Aubaine de la semaine
Offer of the week
Special of the week
Feature of the week, etc.

You can click on the thumbnail to see a larger version.

On the other sign, we see solde, which means “sale.”

Read Full Post »

A good expression to know that came up while I was listening to the radio is quand même.

You’re probably familiar with quand même when it means “anyway,” like this: C’est cher, mais je vais l’acheter quand même. It’s expensive, but I’m going to buy it anyway.

A usage you might be less familiar with is when quand même is used to show surprise.

Overheard on the radio:

— Ça coûte deux millions de dollars. Quand même!
— Quelle aubaine!

— It costs two million dollars. Imagine that!
— What a great price!

The speaker who said it was an aubaine said this sarcastically. He didn’t really believe it to be a great price.

Another example:

— Il roulait à 130 kilomètres à l’heure.
— Quand même…

— He was driving at 130 kilometres per hour.
— Imagine that…

We’ve also got aubaine in the first example above. Learn that one too. It’s a feminine word and refers to a good price, a sale item: C’est une aubaine. It’s a good deal, a good price.

Read Full Post »

A short Facebook update by Rabii Rammal reminds us of both Québécois vocabulary and good manners on this brutal winter day:

Ce soir après la job, stationne pas ton char dans la place que ton voisin a déneigée. C’est pas très gentil.

This evening after work, don’t park your car in the spot that your neighbour had to shovel. That’s not very nice.

la job
job, work

[ne] stationne pas
don’t park

ton char
your car

la place
place, spot

to clear away the snow

When a snowplough comes along, it dumps mounds of snow around cars parked in the street, blocking them in. Owners then have the pleasure of having to dig their car out with a shovel. These are the parking spots that Rabii asks neighbours not to steal after work (wouldn’t it be nice).

Read Full Post »

Chris asks about a French adjective that sounds like sou in the masculine and soule in the feminine. It means “drunk.” What word is it?

soûl (masculine; sounds like sou)
soûle (feminine; sounds like soule)

You’ll also see this spelling:

saoul (masculine; sounds like sou)
saoule (feminine; sounds like soule)

A québécois expression that comes to mind using the adjective soûl is this one: être soûl comme une botte.

If you’re soûl comme une botte, then you’re very drunk.

In Yves Beauchemin’s Le matou, we find:

Il était soûl comme une botte en quittant le restaurant.
He was totally drunk when he left the restaurant.

This is the masculine form of the adjective, so it’s pronounced sou.

A character on the 2014 Bye Bye used the vulgar expression en crisse after this adjective to make it stronger:

J’étais soûle en crisse!
I was drunk as hell!
I was fucking drunk!

This is the feminine form of the adjective, so it’s pronounced soule.

According to the rectifications orthographiques, this adjective can also be spelled soul and soule, without the accent.

saoul, saoule (older spelling)
soûl, soûle
soul, soule (according to spelling modifications)

Read Full Post »

In this Facebook update from Carnaval de Québec, we’re told to take advantage of the neige collante (packing snow) to make a bonhomme de neige (snowman):

Mes amis, profitez de cette neige collante pour construire un beau bonhomme de neige.

Neige collante is snow that sticks together when you compact it in your hands.

Neige collante is heavier than fluffy snow. It’s the snow you need to make a snowman.

You’ll also hear packing snow called neige lourde because of its weight. You can injure your back when you shovel it away.

There’s also an informal term for packing snow: neige à bonhomme. It’s “snowman snow” after all!

neige collante
neige lourde
neige à bonhomme
heavy packing snow

un bonhomme de neige

_ _ _

Bonne année la gang! Thanks for a great year and for continuing to read OffQc. We’ll meet again in the new year.

Feliz año nuevo
Feliz ano novo
Buon anno
سال نو مبارک
Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun
سنة سعيدة
Happy new year


Read Full Post »

While Christmas shopping, I ended up in a bookshop. I browsed books I like and got nothing accomplished.

There’s always the morning of the 24th, right?

While there, the titles of three books for young people caught my eye.


1. Mon frère est gentil mais… tellement traîneux!

Author: Josée Pelletier

The expression laisser traîner (quelque chose) means “to leave (something) lying around.” Someone who’s traîneux is messy and leaves stuff lying around.

2. Ma sœur est gentille mais… tellement texto!

Author: Josée Pelletier

Un texto is a “text message.” Ma sœur est tellement texto, my sister’s “all text message.” She’s obsessed with texting.

3. Mon grand-père est gentil mais… tellement flyé!

Author: Reynald Cantin

Flyé means eccentric, out of the ordinary, wild. The fly part is pronounced like the English word “fly.” This informal adjective can describe people and anything that’s “out there,” like ideas, plans, etc.

Do you know how to pronounce gentil and gentille? Remember, there is no L sound in either of these words.

Gentil rhymes with menti.

The tille part of gentille rhymes with fille.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »